Vancouver HSBC Celebration of Light Round 1: Team Canada


The HSBC Celebration of Light is a fireworks festival that is held in Vancouver over four nights every summer. It has been an annual event since the early 90s and the event has grown into one of the largest fireworks festivals in the world where almost 2 million people over four nights reportedly take in the show. It is held in English Bay, on a barge just off of Vancouver’s densely populated West End, but is viewable from many points around the city and surrounding areas. My friend in Burquitlam (is that even a place?) about 30 km away, says that she can see most of the show from her condo!

With such a captivating, popular show, you’d expect people to come from near and far to take them in- and you’re right, they do. For better or for worse, the West End gets taken over by tourists and bridge-and-tunnel suburban detritus (Editor’s note: I can say that, I used to be one, but if you must cross a bridge to get to Vancouver, at least I came from one of the better ones – North Shore represent!) Haha, just a little local humour for you all. But seriously, it can be mayhem if you battle the crowds down by the beach, which is why most downtown dwellers get smart and either host or attend fireworks condo parties. It pays to have friends with great views!

Anyway, back to the issue at hand, the actual fireworks. Team Canada set their performance against the backdrop of music from the Wizard of Oz. Although I’ve missed a few nights in the past decade, and correct me if I’m wrong here, but I don’t recall ever experiencing a show that involved a musical – and it was the Wizard of Oz no less! Throughout the performance the fireworks are set to correspond with the music, so near the beginning we heard the Scarecrow’s song, the Lion’s song while a burst of yellow and gold streamed across the sky and fell in the shape of a lion’s mane. Then we were off to see the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz as we followed the Yellow Brick Road that was splayed across the evening sky in bursts of bright yellow squares. Then the Wicked Witch appeared evoking images of dark greens as the Emerald City beckoned.

The highlight by far was the finale set to the timeless classic, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” The build-up was slow, but it soon erupted into an intense supernova of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. All of us stood there on the deck completely mesmerized with our jaws on the floor. It was epic. I know it sounds dramatic and all, it’s just a fireworks show, but when artistry like that is paired so well with the music it elicits awe and wonder.

A few moments after the fireworks stopped you could hear the city, delayed in their emotion, erupt into applause. AMAZING.

“I can’t believe it’s this time of year,” someone said, “that means that summer is almost half over,” as we all peered from Dan’s deck out over the horizon to the setting sun behind the mountains of Vancouver Island in the distance. Who cares, take it all in. It’s summer in Vancouver and these next few weeks of fun and sun are why we crazy west coasters put up with the rain and insanse cost of living all year long. Next up on Saturday is Team South Africa!